Janice Schwartz-Donahue

Current President

My KI Story:

My “KI Journey” began when I enrolled my youngest daughter in the Richard E. Rudolph, Jr. pre-school in 1983!  (However, family history on the ‘Schwartz’ side began as far back as the 1920’s.)  My daughters Laura and Jessica attended Sunday School at KI and celebrated their B’nai Mitzvahs and Confirmations here.

Once I became an “empty nester” I joined Sisterhood, rising to the position of Co-President in 2007-2008.  I was involved in programming and helped organize our annual Sisterhood Shabbat, Opening Brunch and Passover Program – Clear Your Plate, Fill Your Cup.  Six years ago Dr. Arnold Meshkov asked me to move into governance, first as Secretary and then as a Vice President of the Congregation.  Under the Presidency of Evonne Kruger,  I had the honor of ‘Chairing’ the newly created KI Social Justice Policy Task Force.  Once again I was involved in organizing programs that included; a Shabbat Service with the local Director of HIAS, a Political Update with Representative Brendan Boyle, discussions on Gerrymandering issues in PA, and the Climate Crisis, a panel discussion and an update on the Immigration Crisis in our country, as well as a political debate between the candidates for the US House of Representatives in October of 2018.

Above and beyond planning educational programming at KI, I enjoy taking time to actually celebrate Shabbat and am a regular at Friday evening Shabbat Services and at Saturday morning Torah Study.

Background & Education:

Originally from Somerset County, New Jersey I was raised, along with extended family members, on my grandparents 60 acre farm.  I have often compared this time in my life to living on a family kibbutz.

I attended Rider College in Lawrenceville, NJ graduating with a BA in Elementary Education. After moving to Philadelphia in 1972 I was hired by the School District of Philadelphia and spent much the next thirty-nine years teaching 5th grade. I truly enjoyed working with children and viewed my career in education as a mitzvah! I retired in 2011 when my grandson Jesse was born so I could spend some quality time getting to know him.  His Mom, my daughter Laura and her husband Gene live in Los Angeles and I visit a few times a year.

Twenty-one years ago I remarried.  My husband, Joseph Donahue, and I enjoy hobbies that include backyard astronomy and gardening.  It may be a cliche, but retired life is good!

Working with Non-profits: I also have a life outside of KI and currently volunteer once a week at The Gift of Life Family House, which is a Ronald McDonald style house for Organ Transplant patients and their families.  I have been an advocate for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness for the past twenty-five years.  Inspired by personal tragedy, our family started a College Scholarship Program for students who have had life saving solid organ transplants.  In the last sixteen years, my daughter Laura and I have coordinated fundraisers and given out over $130,000 in scholarships in memory of her sister and my youngest daughter Jessica Beth Schwartz.

Contact Janice via email: kipresident@kenesethisrael.org